The Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is pleased to announce that it will build two new high schools and extend two existing high schools, one of the single biggest developments to be made to Catholic education in the diocese's 180 year history.
Currently, more than 18,400 students are enrolled in 45 Catholic primary and 11 Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The announcements will see a new Years 7-12 High School built at both Chisholm and Medowie, commencing in 2018 and 2020 respectively; the first secondary schools to be built in the diocese in over 30 years.
In 2018, St Joseph's High School, Lochinvar and St Mary's High School, Gateshead will grow from offering Years 7-10 to also offering Years 11-12. The decision to grow St Joseph's and St Mary's will also allow for more enrolments to be taken at Catholic high schools in surrounding areas that are already at capacity.
The announcements are among 12 recommendations to come out of a Study, commissioned by Bishop Bill Wright, into the Provision of Secondary Education in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. The aim of the study, which began in 2013, was to ensure the diocese would be able to meet the future needs of students in Catholic secondary schools.
Director of Catholic Schools, Ray Collins, said all 12 recommendations are significant and present new, positive opportunities for Catholic education in the diocese.
"In the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Catholic education is in demand and we are growing to accommodate this demand.
"The Diocese is embracing the opportunity to respond to change and significant
enrolment pressure with innovation and creativity, whilst ensuring the great strengths of our current arrangements are retained.
"This is a significant announcement and a very exciting time for Catholic education in our region," Mr Collins said.
Bishop Bill Wright has welcomed the recommendations, which he says are responding to the needs that have emerged.
"For more than 180 years now, Catholic schools have been providing education to families in this region, and responding to the changing needs of our community.
"By implementing the various recommendations of this latest report, I believe the diocese will be better able to accommodate the demand for quality Catholic education now and into the future," Bishop Bill said.
As part of the study, broad consultation with school communities took place and informed the recommendations.
"The study involved consultation with parents, staff and students of all diocesan secondary schools, quantitative and qualitative research with stakeholder groups, the work and input of an expert panel of educators, a steering group and a literature review," Mr Collins said.
"It was a large project but it produced significant outcomes and we're excited to be able to share these outcomes with our valued staff, clergy, students and parent communities, many of whom informed the recommendations," he said.
The Study into the Provision of Secondary Education was commissioned in order to ensure Catholic secondary schools remain vibrant, relevant and academically competitive in an increasingly demanding and rapidly changing educational climate.
Ray Collins said there will be close monitoring and evaluation of endorsed recommendations and the diocese will continue to respond to needs as they arise.
"We are committed to providing a secondary education for students that is marked by academic rigour and success, providing students with every opportunity to improve their learning such that they can maximise their post-school choices.
"We seek to embrace contemporary approaches to teaching and learning so that our students are well placed to make an active, life-giving contribution to a changing world.
"Catholic schools are an inclusive, affordable option, open to all and we are looking forward to growing the future of Catholic education in our region," he said.
TO VIEW ALL 12 RECOMMENDATIONS, PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED PAGE
Contact Communications Manager at the CSO, Emma Blackford on 49791316.